In a follow-up to a story on the strength of the Lancaster County economy, the producers of NPR’s “The Indicator from Planet Money” podcast series explored how refugees and other immigrants contribute to that success.
In a segment that aired Monday, hosts Cardiff Garcia and Stacey Vanek Smith illustrated the local economic benefit of immigration with the story of Mustafa Nuur, a Somali refugee who started a business in Lancaster.
Nuur, who fled Somalia with his family after his father was killed by terrorists, spent 10 years in a Kenyan refugee camp before moving to Lancaster in 2014.
After getting a job building garages and sheds, Nuur learned web development at a marketing firm before winning the 2017 Great Social Enterprise Pitch with Bridge, a business through which refugees cook meals for local diners.
“Refugees like him and other immigrants are a meaningful part of a complicated success story - the story of how Lancaster City and the surrounding Lancaster County have prospered economically,” Smith said.
The podcast said Lancaster city, which the BBC in 2013 called “America’s refugee capital,” is uniquely suited to help refugees because of the Anabaptist tradition of providing aid as well as the many organizations that help newcomers.
That welcoming spirit creates a positive feedback loop that helps power the local economy, the podcasters said.
“The success of the economy makes it possible for the city to offer resources to these refugees so that they can prosper, and their prospering feeds right back into the success of the Lancaster economy,” Garcia said.
In their first episode on Lancaster, the podcasters pinpointed the county’s growing population as a key to its surprising economic success.